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Learning in harmony

Bach, Beethoven, Mozart.  The Beatles, Nirvana, Madonna.  The history of music teems with trailblazing artists who helped transform perceptions of sound, culture and performance.  In the same spirit, Jurupa USD is breaking ground of its own – by creating the Pacific Avenue Academy of Music.

The academy, which opens in August, is the first school of its kind in Riverside County.  Expert instructors will integrate music into all aspects of learning – "every classroom, every grade, every student," said Principal Maureen Dalimot.  To enroll, students need not have special talent, a performance background, or mad flute skills.

Indeed, the academy's music curriculum starts in preschool, with all pre-K through sixth-grade students welcome.  Pupils not only will learn to read and play music, but also will study music history, music appreciation, and classical and worldwide artists.  A classroom sampling might include East African, Mariachi and Scandinavian longhorn compositions, Dalimot said.  Popular music will also hip hop its way through lesson plans. 

That said, the program's foundational pillars are keyboards and performance.  Keyboards, supported by computer coursework, are a building block for learning other music, while experience performing can serve students broadly in life.  Just ask Paul McCartney.  Or the JUSD students who belted out "We Will Rock You" at the spring concert last month.

But the academy is not all fun and Queen, said Dalimot, a professional musician in a former career.  Music will enhance – not replace or eclipse – classroom learning.  "We are very much about the academics," she said.   "It's not just music.  It's about the academics, which are supported by the music."  One small example: musical notes, which are divided into quarters, help teach fractions.   Another: some reading lessons will incorporate lyrics, composers and artists.

More broadly, instruction in​​ music helps strengthen young brains, research has confirmed.  Music can lift mood, optimize conditions for learning, bolster concentration and memory, enhance imagination and release stress.  In fact, instruction in classical music helps students unlock portions of the brain that are accessible only through music – and which are extremely hard to reach after age 14.   Unblocking these pathways can help students excel in mathematics.

This harmony of music and academics is a special addition to Jurupa Valley.  Reaction thus far from students, parents and the community has been tremendous, Dalimot said.  "We announced it at our spring band concert to hoots and hollers and clapping and just, 'Yahoo!'"  

​It sounds like in this case, "We Will Rock You" was not just a song, but also a promise.   Groundbreaking.

For more information or to enroll in the academy, please contact Maureen Dalimot at mdalimot@jusd.k12.ca.us or (951) 222-7877.

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